May 21, 2017 News
By Sharmain Grainger
There are some things we like just the way they are because they yield the desired results. Usually this means that something is effective without interference. These things can be evident in just about any aspect of human existence.
But then there are other things that demand we remedy with urgency if we are to gain results of an acceptable level. Many times we procrastinate and often end up losing in the long run.
From all indications – that is if the Commission of Inquiry [COI] into the education system is to be accepted wholeheartedly – this is exactly what has persisted over the years in our public education system. While there are many laudable things happening, there are far too many that have been allowed to continue unhindered that have not served the system well. There have been many glaring instances that were highlighted recently by COI Chairman, Mr. Ed. Caesar.
Caesar seems to have been an ideal choice to have led the process, as he has an in-depth and very comprehensive understanding of the public education methods having served for years in the system, even as a Chief Education Officer. He has been able to speak with clarity about the do and don’ts to enable the efficient functioning of the system and seems very optimistic that should the Education Ministry implement the recommendations that are provided by the COI, the system will be well on its way to recovery.
A preliminary report has already been handed over to Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, and a final report, Caesar had said, was to follow shortly.
There have been many ‘eyebrow-raising’ issues outlined in the preliminary report. Many have showcased how taxpayers’ monies have been ill-utilised.
Infrastructure challenges have been among them. Such issues have long been faced by the education sector, and it was certainly one that was amplified in many ways in the preliminary report.
Based on the findings of the COI, taxpayers’ monies are sometimes spent to construct schools in areas where they are not even needed. This is evident by the construction of schools, for instance, in the Berbice River area, that accommodate a mere eight or 10 students.
It is not at all surprising that millions would have, over the years, been allotted for the construction of schools in communities that barely have a handful of school-aged children. It is however very troubling. Who are the advisers behind such projects in a country that is still depending on loans and donors to undertake some developmental projects?
Although we certainly cannot renege on our mission to achieve universal primary and secondary education, it absolutely must be done with critical thinking on our side.
According to Caesar, it has been found that “we are constructing school buildings, removing schools, so to speak, and renaming schools without them being gazetted…and pay sheets are being written in the names of these schools that don’t really exist.”
Now this is tantamount to a higher level of lawlessness that has been allowed to continue for so long that, to many, it just might appear to be normal.
The designs of schools have also been an infrastructural issue of grave concern. Again, based on the findings of the COI, there are schools that are constructed that do not benefit from proper designs, thus rendering them inadequate for the teaching/learning process.
“There are schools that we have gone to [and] after a few minutes we were soaked. The best one, so to speak, the St John the Baptist Primary School in Bartica, [on] both walls of the schools there are eight or nine fans, on each side, and we had like four [more] behind us as Commissioners [but]… we were not [just] perspiring but sweating; we were drenched,” recalled Caesar.
According to Caesar, the situation at the Bartica, Region Seven School is in fact not unique. However, he observed that even with unsatisfactory conditions, teachers and students are expected to function at an optimum. “That is the environment that we expect our young people to perform academically…how unfair or unreasonable are we?” questioned Caesar.
“We must allow ourselves to understand where schools should be built. Let’s ask people, let’s ask the communities,” he stressed.
For this reason, it has been proposed that much thought and wisdom be utilised when public schools are being constructed.
Based on the information gathered by the Commission, Caesar said, the Commissioners have every reason to believe that there should be some agency or some section of the Education Ministry responsible for school designs and construction.
According to Caesar, “we have got to be very careful how we do things.” He pointed out, for example, that “It is felt, based on statements made in the hinterland, when schools are to be built in the hinterland, people in the hinterland who know about ventilation and breeze and so on, must be involved.”
Other infrastructural shortcomings have been linked to repairs and rehabilitation of schools. “If there is no such programme, where are we going? We also have to look at dormitories… some of them for teachers and students are in dire need of repairs,” said Caesar as he pointed out, “We also have to look at who occupy the dormitories.”
In a dormitory in Mahdia, Region Eight, for example, the best as far as the region is concerned, the most proficient Maths teacher is reportedly housed in a “2×2 room” punishing.
“This is a teacher who we expect to perform in the classroom, and we are aware that he is inconvenienced…also other teachers are there wanting to be housed and can’t be housed, because persons who are not in the education system are in the building,” said Caesar.
“There are persons who are not teachers and who know to utilise other substances that are living in the dorms, in the best rooms! What are we doing? The Department of Education must take action,” asserted Caesar, even as he stressed the need for a great deal to be done.
According to Caesar, the Ministry, even as he examines infrastructure issues, has to guard against constructing school buildings that do not cater to those who are differently able.
“We must not build any school that doesn’t allow those who are physically challenged to enter. We have to give thought always to persons who may come with crutches, who may be in wheelchairs, who cannot see properly and so on. Let us prepare our schools so that those persons can also enter our buildings,” said Caesar.
VP Jagdeo words exposing him
Feb 07, 2023SportsMax – A maiden Test double hundred from Tagenarine Chanderpaul and a 12th Test century from captain Kraigg Brathwaite have put the West Indies in an excellent position after day three of...
Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States of America... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]